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Antonio Blakeney Declares for 2016 NBA Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Daniel Kramer@dkramer_Featured ColumnistApril 1, 2016

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MARCH 11:  Antonio Blakeney #2 of the LSU Tigers plays against the University of Tennessee Volunteers during the second half of an SEC Tournament Quarterfinal game at Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The LSU Tigers announced Friday that All-SEC freshman guard Antonio Blakeney will enter the 2016 NBA draft.  

Blakeney will not hire an agent for the time being, allowing him to retain his NCAA eligibility.

He becomes the latest underclassmen to utilize the new NCAA rules that would allow him to return for his sophomore season if he decides to pull his name.

This year, the NCAA pushed back its deadline for players to remove themselves from draft consideration to 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine. It also created more avenues for players to gauge their stock in meeting with pro teams:

NCAA @NCAA

Students can also enter NBA draft multiple times without jeopardizing eligibility & participate in combine & 1 tryout per NBA team per year.

Given the new protocol, Blakeney's decision didn’t come as a major surprise, per Cody Worsham of Tiger Rag:

Cody Worsham @CodyWorsham

This isn't an unexpected decision by Blakeney. One source told me "it'd be foolish" for Blakeney not to test waters, given new rule.

Blakeney, who joins Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman as the Tigers who have declared, issued a statement thanking the LSU community through Kent Lowe, the school’s associate sports information director:

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I want to take this opportunity to thank God, my family, my coaches and teammates. I’ve learned some valuable lessons during my freshman year. I’m excited about my future in basketball and look forward to improving on and off the court each day.

After meeting with my mom and the LSU Coaching Staff—I’ve decided to enter my name into the 2016 NBA Draft with the hopes of pursuing my dream of playing the game I love with the best in the world.

I will not hire an agent to keep my NCAA eligibility intact. I love all the fans at LSU and would love for their support through this process.

Blakeney emerged toward the end of the season, finishing with 18.6 points over the final 11 games, and his decision to test the NBA draft is a logical one.

He’s currently ranked as the No. 35 freshman prospect, per DraftExpress.com, which isn’t very encouraging. But the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from pro teams will only help his development, particularly if he does return to school.

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